Ricardo de la Riva developed a guard that revolutionized BJJ. The DLR is one of the most popular guards in modern BJJ and has made possible for new guards, submissions and sweep variations to be developed with it as a starting point. The black-belt under Carlson Gracie sat down with Gallerr to talk about the origin of his guard.
“I don’t know how to pin down exactly when it was that I created the de la Riva hook,” he said. “But it was during my transition from the brown to the black belt. I remember at the time I stayed a year at the brown belt, which wasn’t very common back then. People used to stay at that belt for a long time; Carlson used to motivate people at that rank, and it took me a year to go from brown to black, which was quick at the time. And it was in that transition. It was a lucky stroke.”
De la Riva credited teammates for some of the strides he made over the years, and recalled a particularly memorable BJJ session at Carlson Gracie Academy:
“Murilo Bustamante was the guy I rolled most with; there was even a time he’ll certainly remember too. We were training, the whole class — it was 10 or 12 rolls at once, — and Carlson saw me sparring with Murilo and said, ‘To everybody except Murilo and de la Riva, the task today is to watch this roll.’ Then I thought, ‘Crap; this is it.’ And Murilo, always heavy and big, and I was a featherweight. That was the biggest help I could hope to get. Those people passing my guard and squeezing me here, and helping me and telling me, ‘Look, de la Riva, that position there, with the leg, gave me a really hard time. How about doing this? I think you can improve it.'”